Welcome to the Garlic Gallery for 2014

Asbury Village Farm Shareholders planting the 2014 garlic crop on 10/26/2013. 20,000 cloves planted yields 20,000 bulbs!

Hello Garlic Lovers!!

Here are some developments and observations for the 2014 garlic season at Asbury Village Farm (AVF). Two varieties have been added. I have admired the Vietnamese Purple that Piedmonte Farms from upstate New York has been bringing to the regional Garlic Fests for the past three years. This Purple Stripe has a pointy bulb shape and classic coloration. I can't imagine these growing in Vietnam since hardneck (sativuum ophioscorodon) garlic benefits from a period of winter dormancy. I hope these do well, along with all the other ophio garlics considering the frigid temperatures we have experienced this year.

Farmer Steve suggested we reintroduce the Killarney Red. This handsome Rocambole (hardneck) was part of our original Asbury Farm planting stock back in 2002. Rocamboles have been considered the chef's favorite due to their robust flavor and easy to peel cloves. Mark Canright farms right across the Musconetcong from AVF at the Comeback Farm and brought these to the Dvoor Winter Market in Flemington on Sunday 2/23. Although Rocamboles are known to be the earliest to dehydrate, these fine specimens were still nice and firm.

We planted our first Elephant Garlic, Allium ampeloprasum, in the Garlic Lab in 2012. Fellow collector Michael Moehrle found this in his father's compost pile! Not a sativuum, agronomists suggest it is more closely related to the leek. The giant cloves produced vigorous stalks that bore the spooky flower spikes at the right. Within a month they had transformed into the gorgeous, globular heads of pompom flowers on the left.

Here is the 2013 Elephant harvest. The harvested bulbs at the top have small bulbils that form around the roots like the corms of a gladiola. I collected those at the bottom of the photo to replant. Three bulbils from 2012 grew into the three 'rounds' in the center of the picture. Rounds are unsegmented bulbs that when replanted will form fully segmented bulbs the following year.

So the experiment here is to establish a means of propagating more bulbs by growing the bulbils into rounds and the rounds into bulbs in a two year cycle. Some hardneck garlic growers favor this technique. They grow out the mature bulbils in the scapes of their hardnecks instead of retaining a portion of their bulbs to break up for planting.
Asbury Village Farm is now a proud member of the Garlic Seed Foundation. Read more about their work on their web site or visit them at some of the Garlic Festivals listed there.

These are 11 of the of Asbury Village Farm hard and softneck garlic varieties grown in 2013.

The AVF collection started in the fall of 2002, when we bought seed stock from Filaree Farm. Tom Begnal recommended two Rocamboles, Killarney Red and Carpathian, as well as a Purple Stripe called Persian Star. These are hardneck garlics (sativuum ophioscorodon). They all grew well in our gravelly loam and Zone VI temperatures. In 2004 we ordered the Chinese Purple and Brown Tempest, and bought some Porcelain from Billie and Skip Fairman in Nazareth, PA.

Reading about softneck garlics (sativuum sativuum) and their long keeping properties, I asked Tom for a suggestion and we planted the Inchelium Red in 2005. It proved to be remarkably vigorous. Here are some observations about each of our thirteen garlics:

The Rocamboles

I have had a hard time distinguishing between the Killarney Red and the Carpathian. Sometimes I can see a little color difference in the stalks. Next season, the Killarney Red should prove true to its name snce Steve said the fresh planting stock for 2014 bore a nice reddish purple.

The Purple Stripes

The Persian Star, although not large in size, is consistently hardy and hot. The Brown Tempest is a Glazed Purple Stripe and in our soil produces a handsome, dusky brown, medium size bulb. In 2009 we added a generic Purple Stripe from Filaree. This season, all three varieties exhibited gorgeous striations of purple hues in varying degrees of coverage. Our most colorful harvest! As noted above, we expect the Vietnamese Purple to make a significant addition to our growing collection.


Fairman White constitutes over 50% of our crop. This vigorous and consistent garlic has been supplied by Skip and Billie Fairman since 2003. We are also growing out the German Extra Hardy and a Music acquired from Phillips Farm in Milford, New Jersey. Multiple seasons may be required for newly introduced varieties to adapt to our soil and microclimatic conditions.

Inchelium Red

These bright white Artichoke bulbs can get large. The three inch diameter specimen I entered in the 2006 Warren County Farmer's Fair won first place. Their stalks fall over just before harvest and make amply clear the term softneck. This strain and the Italian Lorz described above are called Artichokes because their cloves are arranged in overlapping layers like a true Artichoke.

Italian Lorz

I received two bulbs of the Italian Lorz from fellow collector Michael Moehrle in early 2012. The Lorz family brought this softneck Artichoke garlic from Italy when they settled in the Columbia River Basin before the 1900s. Like other southern European varietal strains, it was well-suited to the warm summers in Eastern Washington and is now grown in many parts of the United States. Michael purchased these bulbs in Chehalis, Washington and we set up a row in March 2012 against the edge of the AVF high tunnel #1 which we christened the Garlic Lab. Garlic is planted in the fall, but I can report that spring planting can produce decent bulbs as you can see on the left. The warmth and controlled irrigation of the tunnel undoubtedly helped. The Italian Lorz is again taking pride of place at the front of our 2014 beds where we can keep a watchful eye on their continued development.

Chinese Purple

This modest Artichoke sub-variety is my favorite. It needed coaxing to adapt to our growing conditions, but it now performs nicely with the most amazing purple splotching on the wrappers. The stalks are weak and produce few scapes (more about these later). I think of it as sort of a hermaphrodite, half hardneck and half softneck. In storage, these guys want to grow really early and seem to be the first to sprout. Likewise they are the first to emerge in the spring (photo taken 2/28/11).

Nootka Rose
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, not too far from the west coast of Vancouver Island, home to the Nootka First Nation. I was intrigued by the garlic of the same name in the Filaree Farms catalog and wanted to grow some for friends who live in the NW. This is an heirloom Silverskin (our first!) originally supplied by Steve Bensel on Waldron Island. In our first year of propagation, it yielded an astounding seven fold return on the planting stock and continues to produce admirably. It is our best storing garlic with little sign of dehydration through March. If you are careful in the timing of the harvest and remove the bulbs carefully from the soil, the outermost wrapper will reveal the blush of rose.

I have learned how critical harvest timing is. Since the wrappers can rot very quickly, getting the bulbs out of the ground should be done sooner rather than later. As a result, the crop reveals a lot more color because when you clean the bulbs you aren't peeling away the outer wrappers where the color resides.

Buckwheat (fagopyrum esculentum)

David Stern, director of the Garlic Seed Foundation, is a big advocate for using Buckwheat as a green manure for garlic production. Farmer Steve has sown buckwheat into the designated garlic beds in August for the last two years. It blossoms into a profusion of white flowers standing about a foot tall after three weeks. Note pink mutant (2012) in center of photo on right.

According to Cornell University, Buckwheat 'is a scavenger of phosphorus and calcium and mineralizes rock phosphate, making these nutrients available for later crops. Residue from the succulent buckwheat plants decomposes quickly.'

Nitrogen fixing legumes (fava, green beans and peas for our shareholders) were grown earlier in the year on the plots where garlic beds were planned for the following season. Steve explained that the buckwheat was ‘locking in’ that nitrogen. Our buckwheat crops were turned into the soil shortly after they flower, and the decomposing biomass contributes its own nutrient make up. You can also think of this process as feeding the microbes!


Strange Brew

In May 2011, we brewed a mean tea from Alfalfa Meal (nitrogen) and powdered kelp (potassium) and applied it with the backpack sprayer. These nutrients are absorbed through the pores or stomata of the leaves. Our Silverskin (Nootka Rose) showed the most noticeable result. Softnecks tend to droop and these guys perked right up after their second shot of this potent beverage. The 2014 crop will start receiving foliar feeding in late April.

Refilling the backpack sprayer with Strange Brew


Strange Brew ingredients: Maxicrop Norwegian powdered kelp and Alfalfa meal

Like Baby Rhea (who was born on the Farm in February, 2011), the garlic takes nine months from planting to harvest. It's a long gestation. The 2013-2014 cold winter will provide the crop with a vital period of dormancy. Spring promises a vigorous emergence for this year's crop. Stay tuned.

May 31, 2011: 1 month before harvest. Porcelain (L), Rocamboles and Purple Stripes (C) and Softnecks (R).

Don't miss the 2014 Hudson Valley Garlic Fest in Saugerties, NY. Over 20,000 garlic lovers attend this event each day. We particularly enjoy the Saturday night Grower’s Potluck, where we have been introduced to the fellowship of garlic fanatics and their secret recipes. To read more and see pictures, click here.

February 25, 2014

Care to comment? curt.rowell@gmail.com I am also accepting bookings for 'Ancient Memories', an illustrated presentation on the cultural history and propogation of garlic.